Our Creative Economy: Listen up, Houston!

This past Monday, April 11, I had the pleasure of attending a day-long discussion “Valuing the Creative Economy” at the third Leadership in the Arts Summit held at the Center for Arts Leadership at the University of Houston. Quite a stunning facility!

I learned about this summit from my friend and Only in Houston Co-chair Alfred Cervantes, who besides being the deputy director of the Houston Film Commission was also a panelist addressing the question “Creative Economy: What is it and why does it matter”?

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Because of the length of the Summit and the depth of discussion that took place and will continue in the weeks and months to come, there will be subsequent posts about our progress and how all this can tie together here in Houston. There will also be photos and presentations from the Summit posted to the Center’s website in the days ahead.

The goal of the Summit, according to Sixto Wagan, Director, Center for Arts Leadership, is “to bring our creative community together to talk and to envision a collective future. The panels are meant to push beyond the simple binaries, help us question assumptions, and move the conversation forward toward action.”

Christine Harris lead the opening plenary (formal seminar-speak) “Creative Economy: What is it and why does it matter”? Christine has been working with creative enterprises and community development for over 30 years and was recently in Houston last November headlining a similarly-themed morning workshop at the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) and an evening panel discussion at Gensler.

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Harris co-founded the Creative Economy Coalition, a working committee of the National Creativity Network, and designed and executed the nation’s first review of defining the creative economy. This study profiled and inventoried how 27 communities around the nation were profiling and measuring their creative economies. She was CEO of Creative Alliance Milwaukee, where she managed a full profile of the regional creative economy and developed online resources for the sector.

It’s not my intent to cover all that was discussed during the Summit in one blog post. We’d be reading for days! I merely want to further the conversation that was “started” last November and continued this past Monday.

And Houston, we’ve got work to do.

Just consider these questions:

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And then, there’s the $64,000 question:

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Obviously, these questions don’t have simple, ready-made answers. They do, however, demand discussion and we need to continue this.

Feel free to comment and send me input on possible answers or solutions to these questions. You can also post your ideas on OiH-FaceBook and/or the Arts Leadership-FaceBook.

The various communication organizations in and around the city are a major resource for input and counsel. So, too, are the fine educational and non-profit venues in our area. Although this Summit centered around the arts, creativity knows no boundaries.

Through the American Advertising Federation Houston (AAFH), Only in Houston (OiH) was born a decade ago. Its intent was, and still is, to keep local creative dollars spent locally. There was even a multi-communication organization formed years ago (Houston Communication Alliance) aimed at bringing together all “creatives.”

Times change as do people and industries. Houston’s Creative Economy and its driving forces need to meet today’s challenges with tomorrow in mind. We may need to rethink how this is done. Other communities around the country are doing so, and it will take just that: A Houston-wide effort. No one organization or person can do this.

At the risk of thinking out loud (even though I’m typing this in silence), maybe Only in Houston morphs into a “Houston Creative Coalition,” which is comprised of organizations like the Houston Arts Alliance, Greater Houston Partnership, numerous professional and arts organizations, etc.? We can learn a lot from others who have started something like this. But Houston needs to create something that works in Houston, not Boston.

And we must do a helluva lot better job of communicating with one another so that we all know what’s going on and when. No problem; piece o’ cake!

The Leadership in Arts Summit 2016 is a recent example of creativity and economics blending and working together for the common good. We need to make sure the conversation continues and progresses.

More to come . . .

Onward!

 

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Creativity as a Problem Solver

During my recent presentation on creativity and creative thinking to the AAF Rio Grande Valley, I referenced using creativity to help solve problems. No matter how cutesy an ad looks or what kind of special effects one uses, if a problem does not get closer to being solved, the process is not doing any good.

The following video is one I suggested that interestingly addresses how creativity helps solve problems. It’s an excerpt from this year’s Aspen Ideas Festival, where a group of people who work in media, design, and the arts were asked about how the creative process can lend itself to unlocking solutions.

 

Kick Starting Creativity in the Rio Grande

I recently had the honor and pleasure to present “Kick Starting Creativity Without Screwing Up the Idea” to the American Advertising Federation Rio Grande Valley. As with my other presentations in this series, I did some fine-tuning with this version.

I was last in the Valley before this same group back in 2008. The landscape and development may have changed (more of it) but the people have not – still friendly, wonderful, courteous . . . and, of course, creative!

Those of you who were in the audience can, hopefully, enjoy it again and get some useful tips. Those of you who did not experience it that day, may learn a few things. Naturally, what follows is just the visual and not, unfortunately, the experience itself.

Kick-Starting Creativity Without Screwing Up the Idea

Keynote version (no audio)

PDF version (no audio)

 

Kick Starting Creativity: A Presentation to AAF – Central Texas

Last Friday, August 7, 2015, I had the pleasure of speaking at the professional development luncheon of the American Advertising Federation of Central Texas in Temple, Texas. My topic was a fun one to present, “Kick Starting Creativity: Ye Olde Creativity Survival Kit.”

Joe Fournet stresses a point in his Kick Starting Creativity presentation at American Advertising Federation of Central Texas.

I had presented a similar talk several years ago for both a chapter luncheon and a Creative Summit hosted by AAF Central Texas. Friday’s presentation was updated and included new items.

Although the audience was primarily made up of advertising and marketing professionals, “Kick Starting Creativity” centered on the way one thinks and applies one’s imagination. Thus, anyone can put these tips and techniques into practice. I like to say that we’re all creative; we just have different perspectives in how we apply our creativity.

“Kick Starting” was done in Keynote but the size of the file prevents me from uploading it here. I’ve included a PowerPoint version on SlideShare as another option. Here are three handouts referenced in the presentation along with the presentation itself, all in PDF:

Top Tips- Rev

HelpfulStuff – Rev

39 Ways to Kick-Start Creativity copy

Kick Starting Creativity – AAF Central Texas

Kick Starting Creativity – AAF Central Texas (PPT)

Adobe’s Creative Cloud Conference Good for Creative Community and OiH

If you live and work within driving distance of Houston, you owe it to yourself to come spend a day or two listening to and learning from Adobe’s experts as they teach all you need to know about the various applications within the Creative Cloud.

As the one stop source for finding creative talent in the Houston area, Only in Houston (OiH) is proud to be take part in presenting this Creative Cloud Masters Conference. Thanks to a partnership with Future Media Concepts, OiH members can now save 25% on their registration. Use promo code OiH15 to redeem your discount.

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WHY ATTEND?
Advance your skills with cutting-edge sessions
Discover time-saving techniques
Learn from top instructors in the field
Network with peers and expand your professional network

A must-attend event created for graphic designers and other creatives to perfect and diversify their skills. Join top industry speakers to learn the latest Adobe print and web design tools, plus get started in video production. The conference agenda features 3 days of training on graphic design, print, web design and motion graphics. Organized in Houston on March 11-13. Use discount code OiH15 to save 25% on your registration. 

Creative Cloud Conference Logo

 

 

So How Did They Make that Penguin so Realistic?

Okay, I admit it. I was captivated by the John Lewis Christmas commercial and wondered, “How’d they do that?!”

Creativity went behind the scenes to find out. I’m glad they did.

Love it or hate it, John Lewis’s Monty the Penguin holiday ad is an unstoppable seasonal juggernaut, with YouTube views now exceeding 17 million. One of the reasons for the appeal of the U.K. retailer’s ad is its realistic depiction of an Adelie penguin, created completely in CGI.

Behind the scenes of the making of Monty the Penguin

In this fascinating behind-the-scenes film from VFX house MPC, you can find out exactly how Monty was dreamed up, created and rendered. It’s full of interesting nuggets — for instance, Monty picks up the Lego bricks the way that real penguins pick up fish — as well as providing an insight into the film’s production, casting and more.

 

New Yorker Cartoonist Offers Views on Creative Process

Matthew Diffee, whose cartoons you may have seen in The New Yorker and Texas Monthly, recently offered his views on idea generation and the creative process. He was in Houston presenting to the American Advertising Federation.

Matthew Diffee promo ad

Matthew, not unlike a lot of us in a creative industry, has a quirky sense of humor and sees things (or at least thinks about them) from a different perspective. This helps in generating ideas.

One of the first things he believes in is to make it easy to “do ideas.” If you’re a coffee drinker, make sure you’ve got a fresh pot to start things off.

Second, or at least this is what I jotted down as second, is a list of five verbs that he uses when he reviews his ideas: Add, Subtract, Switch, Invert, Mash up. These may lead to some sort of visual and/or a caption for the visual. The interplay between words and pictures can be fun!

An example he gave of taking a traditional question oft times used in job interviews, “Where do you see yourself in five years?,” and, instead, coming up with “Where do you see yourself in ten minutes?”. Try that in your next interview.

The best thing one can do is to maintain momentum – keep going in your process. I’ve learned from experience that stopping and starting does no good. You really have to get into some sort of flow.

Another one of his takes on a traditional phrase goes like this: “A penny saved is a penny who has accepted Jesus Christ as its Lord and Savior.” I know, I know, not everyone will find this humorous. I guess it depends on one’s sense of humor. 😉

Other elements and observations from of his creative process:

The Zone – easy to start, hard to stop. We’ve all found our “zone” before. Once you’re in it, don’t let up until you’ve got what you set out to get.

Flip Funnel – large end to finely tuned. Seeing an idea in a broad sense and developing it to a specific angle or perspective. Going from concept to a single cartoon cell in Matthew’s case.

Generating Ideas – quantity over quality. You can sort through these later. You need ideas and lots of them. Never critique when generating ideas.

Can’t make a great idea just by working harder – inspiration hits like a turd. Though somewhat crudely put, his thought is true. We can’t plan to have a great idea by a certain time. It’s not like we have an On/Off switch. We may take five minutes or two days.

Dull Bulbs – assume your work could be better. Don’t let your ego get in the way. No matter how wonderful we may think our idea is, there’s something about it that can be improved.

So whether you’re a budding cartoonist, experienced writer or designer or someone who needs to come up with a bunch of ideas for the next mode of transport to Mars and beyond, some of these techniques may help.

And when you review what’s been discarded at week’s end, don’t throw them away. Who knows what other uses may be made of them.

What has Matthew done with all his ideas which have been rejected? He’s made them into a book, an archive of sorts, entitled “The Cream of the Crap.”